from National Security and Defense Program

Invisible Armies

An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present

A complete global history of guerrilla uprisings through the ages.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Read an excerpt of Invisible Armies.

As fitting for the twenty-first century as von Clausewitz's On War was in its own time, Invisible Armies is a complete global history of guerrilla uprisings through the ages.

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Wars and Conflict

Military Operations

Beginning with the first insurgencies in the ancient world--when Alexander the Great discovered that fleet nomads were harder to defeat than massive conventional armies--Max Boot, best-selling author and military advisor in Iraq and Afghanistan, masterfully guides us from the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire up through the horrors of the French-Indochina War and the shadowy, post-9/11 battlefields of today.

Invisible Armies Insurgency Tracker

Relying on a diverse cast of unforgettable characters--not only Mao and Che but also the legendary Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi, the archaeologist–turned–military commander T. E. Lawrence, and the "Quiet American" Edward Lansdale, among others--Boot explodes everything we thought we knew about unconventional combat. The result is both an enthralling read and our most important work on nontraditional warfare.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

Educators: Access the Teaching Module for Invisible Armies.

Visit the author's website,

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Wars and Conflict

Military Operations

Reviews and Endorsements

Selected as one of the Washington Post's one hundred best books of 2013

Included in the Foreign Policy Association's Six Books to Read This Summer

Should be a bible for policymakers.


Thoughtful, smart, fluent, with an eye for a good story.

New York Times Book Review

Enormous, brilliant, and important . . . If there is such a thing as wisdom and common sense about the kind of war we are fighting now, and appear likely to go on fighting for some time, Max Boot's lucid, enlightening, and highly readable book is it.

Daily Beast

Fresh . . . pithy . . . [a] timely reminder . . . of the hard-earned lessons of history.


Impressively researched, astutely synthesized, and eminently readable.


Sweeping, well-written, and comprehensively documented . . . a must read.

Publishers Weekly, starred review

An expansive nuts-and-bolts historical survey from a keen military mind.

Kirkus Reviews

Fascinating. . . . Beginning with the barbarians at the gates of the Roman Empire, a wonderful and valuable historic narrative filled with colorful characters.

Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin

Max Boot has written a landmark book about a perennial and important challenge: guerrilla warfare.

Jon Meacham, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

A penetrating writer and thinker.

Wall Street Journal

Max Boot has produced the most definitive and comprehensive work to date on the dominant form of warfare of our times. From the origins of guerrilla warfare to current conflicts the reader travels through the centuries of time understanding the nature and character of unconventional warfare yet because of the power of Boot's narrative and sheer ability to tell a story, the reader can live the experience. A must read for scholars, military and government professionals and a fascinating journey for the general public.

General (Ret.) Jack Keane, former Army Vice Chief of Staff

This is the definitive treatment of guerrilla warfare through the agesa tour de force by a preeminent military historian who has advised generals, policymakers and political leaders on the subject.

Senator John S. McCain

Max Boot, with flair and insight, delivers a rich and enthralling history of guerrilla warfare. This is an important work with a powerful message: throughout the years counterinsurgency has more often than not been the norm, and if we are not prepared to deal with such nasty little wars in the future, there'll be a heavy price to pay. A serious, sobering book, this epic work belongs on the shelf of military history buffs and policymakers alike.

Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval

Sweeping, meticulous, and exceptionally thoughtful. Max Boot's Invisible Armies is an important, compelling contribution to our understanding of how men make war.

Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle

In the News

Max Boot on NPR's Morning Edition

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Giving Guerrillas the Boot

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